Kindergarten: The Ultimate Test of Motherhood

Next week, my oldest begins Kindergarten.  Full days.  Every day of the week.  Good old-fashioned school.  Our house is filled with anticipation…and anxiety…excitement…and nervousness…the “back to school jitters” are in full swing over here…for me.

Yes, that’s right.  Me.  Mom is the one with the back to school jitters.

To begin with, I know that everything is about to change for our little family.  Our schedule and our “routine” (if you can call the ever-changing blessed chaos that ensues each day by that term) that we have started to fall into over the past year since I have started staying home each day with my littles is about to change.  It will evolve.  It will require more time, more energy, more creativity with coordinating schedules, & ultimately more sacrifice.  I’m not sure I’m ready to begin the whirlwind of “the school age”.

But he is.  I look in his bright eyes and see just how ready he is.  He soaks up learning like a sponge, he adores being around people, he loves Jesus, and he’s crazy about new experiences.  When we visited his school for the open house, his excitement could hardly be contained as he bounced from classroom to classroom.

“Mom, did you see that teacher had GEORGE in her room?”  Yes, I did notice.  The same one we have at home that gets safely tucked into his arms every night.

“Mommy, come look at this!  A Lego table!”

“Ooh! Books! I LOVE books! Look at all these books, Mom!”

“What does this do?  Oooh, what about this? Hey, Mom, what does THIS do?”

When we finally entered the gym for registration, he saw other kids running around at the other end of the room while their parents waited in line.  He kept tugging at my hand pleading with me to go play with the other kids, “That looks like so much fun, Mommy! Can’t I go do that!?”  Never mind that he doesn’t know any of those kids; he sees fun and wants to jump right in.

He is definitely ready.

But I’m not.

It’s not that I’m caught up in the emotion of letting him go (not yet anyways).  I’m finding that it’s a deeper reason. My little “mini-me” is off to face the world.  My darling little boy is a reflection of me and my parenting.  Did I get “it” right?  Will he remember all the things I tried to cram into his little mind while he was home?  Why oh why didn’t I stay home with him longer?

My anxious mind thinks through all the scenarios in the past year of staying home with him where I should have changed things…done better…expressed more grace and patience.  Did I teach him enough about love?  What will his teacher think?  Will he behave well in class?

Ok, so clearly Mom has some issues to work through here.

Why is it that I feel like the first day of school for my 5 year old is the ultimate test of my motherhood?  That all my parenting “skills” will be judged according to this kindergartener and his behavior in school for the next 9 months?

How many of us remember those years?  From birth to five.  Seriously, how much do you remember?

Little…if anything.

I’m putting all this pressure on myself to have it all figured out in the first few years of being a parent so that my child can behave perfectly when he enters school.  At five.  A time in my life that I don’t even remember myself.

Why do I do this to myself?

I guess deep down I desperately desire some twisted sense of accomplishment or approval knowing I did “it” right.  Parenting.  I’m allowing my child’s personality, behavior, & choices to affect my own sense of identity and self-worth as a mother.

This is so wrong!  My identity should not be found in my child.  My child’s behavior (whether good OR bad) should not change the way I feel about myself and my parenting “skills”.  I am doing the best I can with what God has given me.  My identity is in Jesus Christ.  He has covered over my sin and shame with his blood.  He has given me new life.  He offers me grace and love and mercy that is new each and every day.  These are the truths that my identity should be grounded in.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  These truths will always remain.

Whether my child has a great time in school or struggles, my motherhood will not be challenged.  I will love him.  I will offer grace and patience.  I will teach him, guide him, and encourage him.  I will show him how to follow Jesus.  I will establish positive and healthy habits for the time he is still at home with me each day and night.

The rest is up to God.  It’s not up to me.

Sweet surrender.

I will pray daily for grace – grace for my child, grace for his teacher, grace for his classmates, grace for their parents, and yes, grace for myself.   Because this is only the beginning.

For now, the three at home will become two.  At least for the majority of the day.

My sweet, confident, eager firstborn is off to take on the world…of Kindergarten…

Be still my anxious heart.